Monday, October 31, 2011

Giant's Causeway Tour

One of our last big trips with Carrie and Jon was a tour of the Giant's Causeway! Mom and I were excited to check out Northern Ireland for the first time as well!
We left on the tour bus from Dublin around 6am and I proceeded to fall right asleep until our driver work us up for a tea and coffee break announcing we were in Northern Ireland.
We drove through some gorgeous scenery and caught glimpse of a rainbow through the dark grey sky. 
The sun did come out for awhile and lit up the gorgeous fall trees changing color!

Our first big stop on the tour was at the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.
It's about a 15 minute walk from the car park to the bridge, but there are lovely coastal views on one side and sheep grazing on the other. 
I love this little "doorway" to the bridge that you can see the water through - it looks like it leads to nowhere. 
The bridge itself was pretty exciting to cross, but not at all as scary as our guide and others had been making it out to be. They do only allow 8 people on the bridge at a time, but there was rope to hold on to and under our feet so it felt quite secure. But I do enjoy being in the air :)
The views from the tiny island we crossed over to were amazing; even on an overcast day, the water color was incredible!
So fun to be there with Carrie and Jon! Mom who is not a fan of heights - decided not to cross the bridge, so I'm glad they were there with me!
We walked back an alternate route to the bus then headed on to the main event - Giant's Causeway!

By the time we got there, the weather had decided to turn totally Irish on us, but I think that added to the atmosphere.
Being surrounded by these incredible rocks is an unreal feeling. Amazing what nature (or a giant named Finn McCool...) is capable of!
I loved watching the water crash over the rocks and flow down like mini waterfalls with each wave.
It's like tile cut and laid perfectly in geometric patterns.
I think these pictures speak for themselves. Although, looking at them now - they don't even begin to compare with the feeling of being there, standing on the basalt rocks feeling the ocean mist on your face is something neither words nor photographs can truly express.

After a quick nap back on the tour bus - we had a little time to breeze through Belfast.
We only had one hour, and it was already getting dark outside, so we stayed right in the center of town just walking around a bit. I definitely want to come back the Belfast though - an hour is not even close to enough time to explore! 
After a thoroughly exhausting amazing day, we returned to Dublin and took full advantage of the hotels great shower (with our little low pressure electric shower you really start to appreciate normal showers!) and relaxed with visions of rock formations and rope bridges still in our heads!

Ring of Kerry

So during our Cork trip with Carrie and Jon, we did a tour of the Ring of Kerry. I would have included this in the Cork post, but there are just too many pictures! This day deserved its own post. 
I wasn't too sure what to expect from a bus tour and was a bit nervous it would just be cheesy touristy stuff all day, but I was pleasantly surprised at how wonderful our guide and the whole tour was. 
First we stopped at the Gap of Dunloe
I love that we get to get on and off the bus and spend time in beautiful places along the Ring. 
Some of the next pictures are just from the bus window as we drove along beautiful scenes.
Goofy family. This is one of our best family pics...
Another sight along our tour was seeing where Charlie Chaplin had his vacation home in the little town of Waterville. 
Here's his quaint little home in the distance. What a beautiful place to spend some time. 
Our next stop was the most windy! On top of a cliff with circle fort down below and a beautiful statue just off the road.
Around the Ring a bit more we came upon a beach! A freezing beach, but a beach!
Our tour was pretty small the day we went (just us 4 and one other couple) so when Mom said something about chocolate to our guide, he made an extra stop in a small town that he said had amazing homemade chocolate!
Such a nice guy, worth the stop too... the chocolate, and views, were amazing! 
One of my favorite parts of the whole tour was our last stop, Torc Waterfall. 
The beautiful Sleepy Hollow-esq forest leading to the waterfall was just incredible.
Moss covering trees like carpet.
And the waterfall! 
Amazing tree roots.
A completely breathtaking day all around.